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Nōgaku hyakuban, Tsuchigumo


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Tsuchigumo 土蜘蛛

(Earth Spider)

No. 6 from the series Nōgaku hyakuban

by Tsukioka Kōgyo, 1922

IHL Cat. #153

About This Print

One of 120 prints issued as part of the series Nōgaku hyakuban (One Hundred Prints of Noh), it depicts a scene from the play Tsuchigumo by an unknown playwright in which the shite throws spider threads made of Japanese paper to snare the warrior Minamoto Raikō (Minomoto no Yorimitsu.)   This print was originally released by the publisher Matsuki Heikichi in the sixth installment of prints in this series.  This series' prints were offered in monthly installments consisting of three prints packaged in an envelope with additional descriptive information.1  

For another depiction of this play by the artist see Nōgakuzue, Tsuchigumo.

One of Thirteen Prints from The Lavenberg Collection

loaned to the Portland Art Museum for the

Special Exhibition

NOH Dance Drama of the Samurai NOV 17, 2012 – FEB 24, 2013

The Play - Tsuchigumo (Earth Spider)

Source: The Noh.com website http://www.the-noh.com/en/plays/data/program_002.html
The servant Kochō comes bringing prescribed medicine to Minamoto no Raikō, who is ill in bed.  However, his illness becomes more and more serious.

Deep in the night after Kochō leaves, an unknown monk visits the bedridden Raikō and inquires about his condition. Suspicious, Raikō asks the name of the monk, and the monk approaches Raikō reciting a poem in the Kokin-shū, "my love will visit me tonight, because a spider…"  Looking closely, Raikō finds that it is a monstrous spider. Although the spider spins out thousands of silk threads to tie Raikō up, from his pillow side Raikō takes the great sword Hiza-maru, which has been passed down within the Genji clan. When he draws the sword and cuts the monster, the spider monk disappears instantly.

Hitorimusha, a warrior who serves Raikō, hears the commotion and rushes to Raikō's room with many of his followers.  Raikō tells about the event and announces that he will change the name of the great hereditary sword from Hiza-maru to Kumokiri (Spider Slasher).  Then Raikō tells Hitorimusha to exterminate the monstrous spider as he could not give it a death blow.

Hitorimusha and other servants follow the blood spots of the monstrous ground spider to an old mound, which seems to be the nest of the spider.  The ground spider appears when they demolish the mound.  The ground spider gives them trouble with its silk threads.  However, Hitorimusha's entourage encircle it in strength and finally slay it.

Noh performance of Tsuchigumo, Kanze Tetsunojō VIII
Copyright 1998-2008, Global Performing Arts Consortium. All Rights Reserved.

1 “The series Nogaku hyakuban (100 No plays) by Tsukioka Kogyo (1869-1927),” Claus-Peter Schulz, Andon 67, Society for Japanese Arts, p. 28.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #153
 Title Tsuchigumo 土蜘蛛 (Earth Spider)
 Series Nōgaku hyakuban 能楽百番 (One Hundred Prints of Noh or One Hundred Noh Plays)
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
Kōgyo, seal no. 36, p. 171 in The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010.
 Date August 1922
 Edition unknown
 Publisher Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya)
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - backed and trimmed
 Genre nishiki-e; nōgaku zue 能樂圖繪 [Noh play picture] or 能絵 [Noh-e]
 Miscellaneous Portland Art Museum loan number L2012.113.10
 Format oban tate-e
 H x W Paper 14 5/8 x 9 1/2 in. (37.1 x 24.1 cm)
 Collections This PrintSan Francisco Fine Arts Museum 1997.125; Scripps College 2007.1.75; Art Institute of Chicago 1939.2258.38; Ritsumeikan Art Research Center arcUP1415; Japan Arts Council BK026-053
 Reference Literature The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010, pl. 65, p. 117.